I ALSO FIGHT WINDMILLS
a literary photobook by Ania Ready
VIKA Books, 2023
I Also Fight Windmills is the first photobook by the Polish-British artist Ania Ready who responded visually to literary texts written by the modernist, trilingual and largely forgotten author of Polish origin Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska (1872-1925; she died in a mental asylum in the UK). Ready has reimagined Gaudier-Brzeska’s story of a migrant woman from Eastern Europe who travelled west to Paris, New York and London to find employment, and above all to fulfil her ambition of becoming a writer. The rigid rules of the old societal order, the lack of opportunities for women, poverty and disillusionment led to her mental instability. The heaviest blow came with the loss of her partner – the modernist French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska – in the First World War soon after she had sent him a rather mean-spirited letter.
By combining Ania Ready’s photography and Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska’s writing, I Also Fight Windmills explores the themes of displacement, creativity, loneliness, a disempowering sense of guilt, and social exclusion. Through re-enactment and the performative aspect of photography, it brings to life an undeservedly forgotten and sometimes stigmatized writer.
Beautifully designed by Victoria Forrest, I Also Fight Windmills contains a book within a book, with literary texts presented separately from the visual story on smaller, yellow pages to resemble Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska’s archive. Ania Ready spent four years reading the writer’s manuscripts and travelling to rural Poland, Cracow, Lviv, Paris, New York, London, and Wotton-under-Edge to piece together her life. The findings of this research are captured in the biographical essay with which the book ends.
This book was created with consideration for the environment - it was printed locally at Taylor Brothers on recycled and carbon balanced papers supported by the World Land Trust, bound with a cloth using yarn derived from the plastic floating in the ocean.